Voices of Oswego Veterans

Boot Camp: The Life of an Army Reservist

Kevin Mercado

Photographer: Mackenzie Carhart

Featuring: Kevin Mercado

You will hear about some of the stories our special guest Kevin Mercado went through during his long months in boot camp and how he struggled through some of these experiences.

Read Audio Transcript

About Kevin Mercado

Kevin Mercado is a senior currently enrolled at SUNY Oswego working on obtaining his degree in marketing with a minor in art. He is originally from Queens, New York but now stays in an apartment off campus. In Kevin’s earlier years here at SUNY Oswego, he took a break from his studies and enlisted in the United States Army as a Private First Class. While there he spent 10 weeks in Fort Jackson, South Carolina and 11 weeks in Fort Lee, Virginia. Although Kevin didn’t enjoy his time there he’s grateful for the experiences he had and all the new people he met. Kevin is a very friendly and personable guy who enjoys spending time with friends when he’s not working on his studies.


Listen to Audio

Kelsey: Hi and thank you for joining us today, I’m Kelsey Gray

Nick: and I’m Nick Magoulas and you’re listening to the latest instalment of the Voices of Oswego Veterans podcast.

Kelsey: In our episode “Boot Camp: The Life of an Army Reservist” you’ll hear from our special guest Kevin Mercado about his unique story from his time in boot camp.

Nick: Whether you’re serving in the Marines, the Army, the Navy, etc. everyone’s experience is going to be different and everyone’s voice deserves to be heard no matter how good or bad the experience was during boot camp.

Kelsey: Some people may have a hard time going through the physical training, not being able to talk to their families for so long, not being able to express their opinions or have a say in what they encounter during the day and Kevin confronted many of these obstacles in his long months of boot camp.

Nick: We were lucky enough to hear these amazing stories from someone who lived through it so let’s have Kevin share with you some of the obstacles he endeavored.

Kevin: My name is Kevin Mercado, I’m a senior and marketing major and minor in art. I decided to enlist because I wanted money to pay off school, I wanted experience so when I left college I wanted something on my resume to stand out from other candidates. When I first enlisted, I enlisted within two weeks. When I first went into the office I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it at all but the recruiter she told me all the benefits and I was really intrigued.

Kevin: When I enlisted I was a private first class, when in basic I was stationed in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I was stationed there for 10 weeks then went to Fort Lee in Virginia for another 11 weeks.

Kevin: Being a higher rank than everyone else didn’t really matter I just got paid a little bit more, some people had lower ranks than me and they had bigger positions, but I tried to lay low the whole time. I didn’t want any responsibility.

Kevin: Not being able to contact my family, it wasn’t as hard because I experienced it through college I didn’t get home sick. I was able to mail my mom once in awhile but it took forever. When I got back home I couldn’t wait, I was tired of the 24/7 military environment, I just wanted to be with my friends.

Kevin: The living conditions - we had to clean our own bay so we did the cleaning in the bathrooms and like the dusting and mopping every morning and it was very dusty so everybody got sick a lot so throughout basic I was sick for like 6 weeks, a lot of people got pneumonia so it was very easy to get sick. The hardest part about training was dealing with about 60 other people and just going throughout the day with the activities that they gave us and the food was really bad so I had to deal with that.

Kevin: The physical aspect of training was, we had to wake up everyday at 4 in the morning to be at PT (physical training) it wasn’t really strenuous on our bodies because it was just stretches and then we ran like every other day and on the days we didn’t run we did upper body like pull ups, push ups, and we did as much as we could.

Kevin: In the Army my job is I’m a generator mechanic, my major is marketing and they have nothing to do with each other I chose it because I thought it would be a practical skill to have outside the Army in case I wanted to do mechanics or something on my car or something like that.

Kevin: Through basic there were three different phases: Red phase which we learned mostly weapon qualifications, the riffle, the M2, and the M249, we qualified we had to get marksman, sharpshooter, or expert. Blue phase we did this thing called nick at night which is basically we did low crawling through sand in the dark while they were shooting above us were supposed to do like 100 meters crawling. Lastly in white phase we had to do tests on our weapons we had to disassemble and assemble within 2 minutes each and learning the chain of command and there were a lot of tests and I didn’t think we would be tested a lot when I enlisted.

Kevin: There was this thing called victory tower where we did events we would jump off a 40 foot wall and climb a rope like repel on it and go to the other side.

Kevin: In Fort Lee in Virginia when I started my advanced individual training as a generator mechanic it was a 10 week long process and there’s different phases as well. A Mod was basically learning the basic electrical wiring, B Mod is learning schematics, Delta Mod is where we got tested on and we had to do hands-on work on the generators and engines, and Echo is our final exam we had to basically show what we learned and after that was all over we had to do a physical test to show that we are able to meet the the requirement for our age group and that’s when we graduate.

Kevin: I’m National Guard and our requirements are to go once a month on a weekend to do training on weapons qualifications, bay maintenance on the unit we’re in, physical training.

Kevin: My overall experience I was happy to meet people, I met people from a lot of different cultures and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned what challenges I can overcome but I learned that I also didn’t really like it because the military takes away a lot of your freedom and I wanted to say I had a lot of opinions but I couldn’t really say it because we would get in trouble so I didn’t like the limitations of what they had on us. If I were to do it all over again I probably wouldn’t enlist because the benefits aren’t really important to me anymore. Now that I’m back on campus I’m glad to finish my degree I’m now trying to join more clubs and find a job on campus.

Kelsey: Whether positive or negative, going through boot camp and being a part of the military is a learning experience for many individuals.

Nick: Although Kevin disliked many aspects from his time in boot camp, it is evident that he tried to take as much out of it as he could. Basic training teaches you to work with others and intensifies work ethic, some valuable skills in American society.

Kelsey: We would like to extend our gratitude to Kevin for sharing his experiences in training with us, as well as our listeners for tuning in on this episode of “Boot Camp: The Life of an Army Reservist”.

Nick: If you are interested in listening further, the Voices of Oswego Veterans podcast includes the different stories and experiences of those who have a history of serving our country. Once again, my name is Nick,

Kelsey: and I’m Kelsey, thank you for listening.